Divorce is expensive. You may be looking at how you can save money and avoid hiring an attorney. If the divorce is amicable, do you really need a divorce attorney? You may feel like you have a good handle on how divorce proceedings work, or have a good idea of what is fair for custody, child support and dividing assets, but is that all there is to it? How do you know if your situation is simple enough to attempt a D.I.Y. divorce? When should you consult an attorney for your case?
The truth is, getting divorced is a complex process. Navigating the intricacies of Colorado divorce law is not easy, and most people should hire an experienced divorce attorney. It is easy to miss a step, form, or deadline. It is also easy to make mistakes because you don’t have the right information. What we do not know or understand can negatively affect the final outcome and have long-term consequences that you may more may not be able to fix through future modifications. When it comes to the law and a complex matter like divorce, what you don’t know can hurt you.
First, while the divorce may start out “nicely,” but things can quickly become difficult and even hostile. The decisions surrounding children and money are naturally tied to a lot of emotion, but they are of enormous importance. An experienced attorney can help keep these discussions within the framework of the likely results within the law, reducing a lot of the conflict and negative emotions that go with it. In some circumstances, your case may be difficult to resolve and need to go to court. If you have an experienced lawyer working on your case, you will likely be prepared for the possibility of trial from the very beginning, and you will not need to adjust your strategy or scramble to create one if going to court becomes necessary.
Second, it can be dangerous to engage in negotiations when you don’t have a full understanding of how the law is actually applied. It can create unrealistic expectations which can lead to inflexible positions and difficult negotiations which also increase time and costs. There also may be factors that could significantly affect agreed results, but do you know enough to ask the right questions?
Third, you can also get yourself into trouble by being “too nice.” Divorce only has to be initiated by one party; being nice and giving away everything will not bring them back.
You can give away too much, more than you are legally obligated to, and potentially put yourself in a difficult situation in the future. You can also make agreements early on, in an effort to keep things “nice,” that you may be held to, when negotiations deteriorate. Being “too nice” can also leave you vulnerable to bad credit and debt collection.
Fourth, you may have used online child support calculators to come to an arrangement. Unfortunately, these calculators as are simple tool that do not always factor in all the elements of your unique family situation. Judges are given broad discretion to deviate from the basic guidelines, when properly brought to their attention by an attorney.
Lastly, you can avoid bigger problems later. While some of these decisions could be modified later (custody, child support, spousal maintenance), others are not easily modified, like property distribution. Certain property divisions are permanent. It usually costs less to do things correctly, from the beginning, than to fix problems in the future. Once your divorce is finalized, you will have to live with the agreements. If a mistake is made, or you overlook something important, there are also significant additional expenses incurred (time, money, emotionally energy) each time you need to return to court.
We all know someone who has gone through a family law dispute. Some of them may have handled their case without an attorney, and had no problems. They may offer you advice about what you can do with your case; but, you need to remember that each family’s situation has differences, even when they seem very similar. Every single family law case has at least one unique issue that needs careful examination. You should consult an experienced family attorney who can ask you the right questions, help you figure out and work towards your priorities, and minimize the damage.
At several points in your case, you are going to have to make decisions that have significant, real-life implications. You need good advice, securely based in the law, that you can use to make tough decisions. Some decisions could mean less time with your kids or having to move out of your home. You need to know exactly what your options are when you have to make a choice that has such a wide-spread impact upon what ends up happening to you and your children. An experienced attorney will help you understand the question you are facing, and what options you have at that time. You can discuss the pros and cons of each approach, and then decide what you feel is best for you. An experienced divorce attorney can help you see what is going to happen, and what you need to do to avoid possible complications.